All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice, All That and a Bag of Mail is here to save you from your work or school doldrums and make you smarter.

As always, make sure you have signed up for my new Wins and Losses podcast. Every week we have a long form conversation with a guest I think you will enjoy. This week’s guest is Dave Rubin. You can find those podcasts here.

Here we go:

Robert writes:

“I came across this story on the interwebs today. I’ve sent the most concise version, I’ve also provided a couple links where their relationship is discussed in news reports. Thought it’d be good to add to your Megan Rapino inspired rant from this morning on your radio show. Keep up the good work. 

At U2 concerts in the early 90’s, a regular part of the show featured criticism of George H.W. Bush. In fact, frontman Bono used to call the White House in the middle of the concert to try to get a chance to speak to the 41st President. 

When George H.W. Bush’s son George W. Bush became President in 2001, Bono was also a critic of his.  

George W. Bush didn’t go to war with the critic of himself and his father. Instead he invited him to talk about something they had a common passion for, saving lives in Africa. They had lunch together in the White House Mess hall, then Bush took him to the oval office. For 40 minutes they discussed A.I.D.S., malaria, and debt relief. 

After the meeting, in 2003, Bush started a program in Africa known as PEPFAR, which 14 years later is credited with saving over 11 million lives. 

Yesterday, Bono was in Texas as part of the current U2 tour, and paid a visit to his old friend, George W. Bush. 

It is amazing what can be accomplished when mature people find common ground for the good of all.”

Thanks for sharing this story, I didn’t know it, but it’s a fantastic example of why you should meet with people you disagree with politically — because you might well find out that you have something in common after all and you could end up making a tremendous difference.
If Megan Rapinoe has a deep disagreement with Donald Trump over some specific decisions he’s made, why wouldn’t she take the opportunity to meet with him face-to-face and make the case for her positions? Love him or hate him, Trump is the most powerful elected official in the world. His time is his most valuable commodity. If you get a chance to meet him, you might be able to persuade him, like Bono did in your above example, to take action about something you believe in.
Using Kim Kardashian as an example, Trump has proven he’s impacted by direct appeals from celebrities. It’s downright possible he might agree with you and change the policy you oppose.
At a minimum, you have to take that meeting.

Unfortunately, we have made it a point of pride in 2019 to refuse to interact in any way with people you disagree with in politics. You can see that in the controversy that arose when Joe Biden had the gall to say he worked alongside segregationist senators in the 1970’s.

OF COURSE HE DID.

THAT WAS HIS JOB.

Is he just supposed to refuse to speak with other senators because he disagrees with them? Politics is the art of the possible and the only way anything is possible is if you have bipartisan relationships with your co-workers. Think about in your own job, what if you just refused to speak with anyone at work who disagreed with you on abortion or transgender issues or guns or any politically contentious issue under the sun.

Think about how absurd you’d be if you were a nurse and you walked into your bosses office and said, “I can’t work with (insert doctor’s name here) on this knee replacement because we have different opinions on the second amendment.”

You’d deserved to get fired on the spot because your divergent opinion on the second amendment wouldn’t mean you couldn’t work on a knee replacement together.

That’s my biggest issue with Megan Rapinoe — you shouldn’t be praised for refusing to meet someone. It isn’t commendable to decline a meeting with the president because you don’t like him. Protesting for protesting’s sake isn’t a viable long term strategy. And it certainly isn’t a praiseworthy one.

Especially not when Rapinoe said she’s happy to meet with people who already agree with her. Well, fine, but what’s the point in that?

If you study American history the civil rights movement was designed to get a seat at the table for the protesters so they could enact meaningful change in the country. The civil rights protesters didn’t want to protest forever and rage against the system, they wanted concrete and actionable results. Which they ultimately received.

How?

BY MEETING WITH THE PEOPLE IN POWER.

Think about what people protest now — the women’s march after Donald Trump was inaugurated wasn’t actually advocating for anything, it was just letting the president know that if he did anything they didn’t like they’d be prepared to protest again.

It’s insane that so many praised Rapinoe for what she did. If anything, it was cowardly and hypocritical. Saying you disagree with the president because he excludes people like you and choosing not to meet with him makes you the excluder, not him.

Collin writes:

“I know streaming shows is the new thing, I even use Hulu Live instead of cable. However, now with ‘The Office’ headed to NBC’s new streaming network AND ‘Friends’ headed to the Warner streaming service I don’t see how this will work. With all of these companies trying to compete in the streaming world, surely not all can survive. 

As a consumer I know I will not subscribe to all of these networks’ streaming services. What do you think the future of streaming will look like? I imagine NBC and other networks are better off collecting their big checks from Netflix and Hulu since they own such a large share of the market, it would be hard for the new streaming services to compete. Why pay this money to build up a streaming service when you can sit back and collect checks from your own shows?” 

The reason why Disney, Warner Media, and NBC are all launching streaming services is because they realized what was happening — Netflix was paying for all their content libraries, but as a result was becoming an entertainment behemoth which was using the revenue it was producing from subscribers — many of whom were subscribing to watch old content owned by other companies — to outbid them for all the new content.

So Netflix was using the old content of these companies to win new content battles in the future.

The companies were faced with a dilemma, they stood to win short term battles by continuing to receive these payments, but they might lose the long term war.

I got several questions on this issue so I’m going to continue the discussion below after this next question.

Daniel writes:

“You’ve been way ahead of the game with much of your analysis of sports media, streaming, etc., especially with the entire ESPN saga over the past couple of years with the cable bundle unraveling ESPN subscribers. 

I saw the other day where big hit shows like The Office and Friends are leaving Netflix because the original network or media outlet is pulling them to their own over-the-top streaming service which you will have to subscribe to to be able to watch them. As more and more of the big networks do this it will require the user to buy multiple services and kind of puts us right back where we were before. So are we now heading to an era where you will have to buy what amounts to a “streaming bundle” to be able to access your favorite shows or movies? Will big companies like Charter, Comcast, etc. start to package those network streaming services together in much the same way as cable has done for years? If that happens I would think services like Netflix and Hulu essentially become their own networks showing original content and whatever reruns they can still snag? 

I was about ready to cut the cord on Directv and go solely to streaming, but with so much of this seeming to happen I almost wonder if it’s better to stick with a TV provider to still have login access to many of the streaming sites. Curious what you think about the direction all of this is heading.”

I think you hit the nail on the head, the issue that’s likely to arise for consumers is they will be replacing one bundle — the cable and satellite channel bundle — with a new bundle that requires them to spend additional money to watch everything they want to see.

Right now my household pays for a cable subscription, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and WWE. We will probably be paying for Disney+ in the fall.

So I’m not saving money thanks to streaming, I’m paying for more than I was before.

At some point as streaming becomes more prevalent I think you’re right, we’ll see a streaming bundle put together that incorporates all these offerings. In fact, I think Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu will likely all be combined by Disney for the same cost as Netflix.

The biggest issue I see is this — there’s a massive battle for content which is creating a revolution of content options for viewers, but, and this is key, do you know what ends up happening? People still choose the familiar over the unknown. It’s hard to break through.

Think about it, Friends and The Office are the two most popular choices on Netflix even though Netflix has tens of thousands of entertainment options.

That sounds crazy until you think about how you make your choices when confronted with a bevy of options. Yesterday I went to get ice cream with my four year old. There were over thirty options for ice cream. But do you know what he picked? Superman ice cream, because that is his pick every time. (I think he picked it the first time because his older brother liked it and he ended up liking it too).

I, on the other hand, have about four flavors I pick between. But I do this despite the fact that I’ve never tried the other 25+ at the ice cream shop. Why do I do this? Because I know I like the four ice creams I’ve had before and I don’t want to risk trying a flavor I don’t like as much. (I could certainly try the other flavors, but that takes a decent amount of time and my personal belief is if you’re an adult trying ice cream flavors you look ridiculous).

The same thing is true in almost everything we buy, at some point we all make choices and we tend to stick to those choices for most of our lives. We stick with what we like. This is why kids are so valuable to advertisers, because they haven’t made all their choices yet.

Which brings me to this — in order to get me to try something new, my friends and family have to gush about it to no end. Why would I check out “Game of Thrones” or “Stranger Things” for the first time? Because they’ve become so big that I can’t ignore them. Because they’re so good that I can’t ignore them either.

The reality is this — even as our options multiply the biggest hits are becoming bigger and the middle tier is being hollowed out. This is happening in all of entertainment. You’re either insanely massive in movies, TV, and music or you pretty much don’t exist.

Everyone needs the next big hit that makes their product a must have, even more in streaming than in cable or TV because you can cancel every month, watch an entire show, and then leave.

Only there’s a very limited number of super hits and it’s hard to predict exactly which ones will be massive. Even for companies that have had big hits. What made “Rome” a bust and “Game of Thrones” a huge hit for HBO? It’s hard to know for sure.

So here we go, let the battle for your streaming wallet commence.

Scott writes:

“Curious about your thoughts on the Federal Court ruling Trump can’t block people on his Twitter account. First, isn’t this a textbook example of judicial overreach? Second, doesn’t this actually do great damage to social media companies’ arguments for banning conservative voices on their platforms?
And finally, how badly would the media lose their minds if Trump pulled a page out of Andrew Jackson’s playbook and said, “The court has made their decision, now let them enforce it.”? It’s not like someone can come arrest Trump for blocking someone on Twitter, and even though Twitter themselves hate Trump I’m sure they’d be loathe to ban someone who draws so many hits to their site. Would Congress really try to impeach him over blocking people on social media? (Stupid question, some in congress already want to impeach him just for breathing.)”
I actually think this ruling is fascinating because what it effectively means is all elected officials wouldn’t be able to block people on Twitter. The next question becomes, what about public figures in general who are engaging in political commentary?
Why would it be permissible for say, Alyssa Milano, a prominent liberal activist, or Jon Voight, a prominent conservative activist, to block people and not for politicians to do so? Is the ruling limited only to elected officials? What about non-elected officials who eventually become elected officials? Does the prohibition on blocking change based on your office or position? Would a court, for instance, require Donald Trump to go back and unblock the people he blocked before he ran for president because now he’s an elected official?
All of these, as yet undecided, legal issues are fascinating to me.
I also think this speaks to the flaw of the blocking function on Twitter in general. In my opinion the way it should work is you should be able to block people from commenting to you or beneath your threads, but you shouldn’t be able to block them from following you or reading what you write.
In other words, I think the people who are blocked have legitimate arguments that they should be able to see what an elected official Tweets, but I’m not sure I’d extend that right to they should also be able to comment directly beneath his Tweets, which is what Trump blocked them for.
I think this speaks to the fundamental flaw of the Twitter block function. I see there being a difference between restricting someone seeing what you said and restricting someone commenting beneath what you said. The block function, in my opinion, shouldn’t restrict seeing what someone said, but it (maybe) should allow you to block them from commenting about you beneath those threads. (This isn’t similar to muting someone, by the way, because if you mute someone the muted person can still comment beneath your threads and if other people comment in threads involving that person you see them as well).
Let me explain my rationale.
There are several people in sports media who have blocked me on Twitter. This means if I get tagged alongside them, I can’t see what they’ve said because I’m blocked. (Sure, I could create a burner account to monitor what those people are saying, but I’m not willing to spend the time or energy on creating a burner account and toggling back and forth between that account and my real account. I’d rather just be able to click on their name and see what they’ve Tweeted). Right now I can’t do that with ease, which, you can argue, makes it harder for me to interact in the first amendment’s marketplace of ideas because I don’t know what my peer group has said.
(It should be noted that I’m not being blocked for harassment or something like that, which I think should certainly be allowed, many of the people who have blocked me I have no idea they’ve blocked me until I click on their Tweets and can’t see them. These people consider my opinions to be so triggering that they are blocking me even though they don’t follow me and I’m not interacting with them. Talk about SOFT).
Now let me make an analogy for you of why I think this distinction makes sense — you are entitled to go watch a president (or any other political figure) speak, but you aren’t entitled to scream responses to everything he or she says during a speech. If you did that, and behaved in an unruly fashion at a public venue, you’d be thrown out of any public speech by any figure of any political persuasion. Hell, it wouldn’t even have to be political at all, you’d probably be removed from any speech on any subject for being disruptive.
Sure, that restricts your first amendment rights in that particular location, but that restriction isn’t about keeping you from speaking out on a subject, it’s about allowing the other person the freedom to make their argument. You’d certainly have the right to combat an opinion you disagree with elsewhere.
So why should you be able to comment directly beneath a public figure’s Tweets if that public figure disapproves of what you are saying there and considers your commentary disruptive? Essentially what you’re doing is using his or her audience to make your point. To me behaving in that manner beneath a Tweet is an easy analogy to being disruptive at a public speaking event I’m putting on.
So what I’d suggest to Twitter is they modify the block function so that it doesn’t restrict you from seeing what someone posted from an account, it just limits your ability to respond beneath those Tweets.
That way the first amendment’s marketplace of ideas continues to flourish, but you aren’t restricting anyone’s ability to remain up to date on the latest pronouncements from elected officials.
I block people on Twitter primarily for harassment. If you have sent me tons of Tweets all disagreeing with what I’m saying, why should I let you keep screaming at me online? I’m fine with you seeing my opinions, but I don’t want to have to deal with you showing up in my mentions over and over again saying the same things.
To me, ultimately, the comments beneath my Twitter feed are my digital property. If I decide to monitor those comments and don’t like what’s being said there, I should be able to clean them up. But I shouldn’t be able to keep people from seeing what I’m saying on Twitter.
Will on Twitter:
“On a scale of 1-10, how stupid is it that congress is trying to require equal pay for men’s and women’s sports, regardless of revenue?”
Infinity dumb.
Everyone in the United States is paid in a capitalistic, market-based economy based on the revenue they produce. It’s that simple.
NBA players have way more value than WNBA players just like Howard Stern has way more value than me in morning radio.
If the WNBA had to pay its players anywhere near what the NBA is paying its players then the entire league would shut down because it would all go bankrupt.
The simple truth of the matter is that women’s sports don’t make much money because women don’t care that much about sports. Men, by and large, are the ones supporting women’s sports.
If you think women are underpaid you shouldn’t be trying to get Congress involved to rectify the issue, you should be spending your money on their product.
Ninja on Twitter:
“Isn’t it racist that it’s called the master bedroom? Shouldn’t it be renamed “head mortgage payer room” or something less offensive?”
Well played.
Wait until Draymond Green hears about this.
Hope y’all have great weekends and thanks for reading Outkick.
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